A depraved pervert who systematically abused three young people alongside another paedophile has been jailed for almost 40 years.

John Smith repeatedly preyed on the three victims over a protracted period with his co-accused, Jeffrey Brown, joining in with some of the horrific abuse.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the pair carried out their campaign of sexual abuse between the 1980s and 2000s – with many of the offences taking place in the Darlington area.

Judge Timothy Stead told the pensioner that his sexual offences were some of the most serious he could have committed.

He said: “I will try to avoid emotive language but it is very difficult to approach a case such as yours without acknowledging the fact that your conduct over many years towards three children – it is difficult to describe it as anything other than the most grave offences of their kind.”

The Northern Echo: John SmithJohn Smith (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Smith, of Heron Drive, Darlington, pleaded guilty to a catalogue of sexual offences after listening to the prosecution outline its case against the 76-year-old.

Paul Abrahams, mitigating at an earlier hearing, said: “He reflected on his position and did not wish to torment the victims in this case any longer."

The perverted pensioner admitted carrying out a series of rapes, gross indecency charges, and sexual assaults on three young victims.

He was given a 37-year extended prison sentence with 35 years in prison followed by two years on extended licence.

Judge Stead added: “As well as committing these offences yourself, you also brought about the abuse of one of the victims by someone else. A friend of yours who has already been sentenced – already a committed and convicted paedophile as he was.”

Dealing with a second victim, Judge Stead said: “This was a child who was also submitted to the sexual predations of someone you regarded to be a friend and knew to be a paedophile sex offender.

See more court stories from The Northern Echo by clicking here

Get more from The Northern Echo with a digital subscription. Click here

The Northern Echo:

The Northern Echo: Jeffrey BrownJeffrey Brown (Image: Durham Constabulary)

“These were sustained offences due to the repetition of them.”

The judge said the third victim was a really young child at the time of the sexual abuse.

Smith’s co-accused, Jeffrey Brown, of Gresham Road, Middlesbrough, was jailed for 28 years in a separate hearing last week.

The 73-year-old was sentenced for a series of offences, including rapes, gross indecency and indecent assaults.